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Nearly half of the world’s population now lives in a country with a fertility rate below replacement levels

Prior to COVID, many projections had the world’s population plateauing sometime in the second half of the 21st century. This is expected to happen because about half of the world’s population now lives in a country where the fertility rate is less than the replacement rate of 2.1 children for every woman. See above chart from The Economist.

At the start of the pandemic, there was talk of a possible COVID baby boom. People were/are stuck at home and so that would surely translate into more sex among partners. But that doesn’t appear to have been the case for many countries. According to The Economist, births fell by 15% in China last year. The same drop was recorded in the United States last year between February and November.

Because of this trend, the above projections are now being adjusted and pulled forward, with some predicting that the world’s population could plateau as early as the 2050s. That’s only about 30 years from now, which means that quite a few of us could end up living in a world with a declining population. This is likely to have both positive and negative consequences.

There are nearly 8 billion people in the world today with China and India being the countries with the greatest numbers. But it’s interesting to consider how recent this figure really is (compounding takes time to gain momentum).

The world didn’t hit a billion people until the 19th century, and the second billion was only reached by the 1920s, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that long ago. Since then the global population has exploded with about 6 billion people being added in only the last 100 years. That’s pretty wild when you think about it.

P.S. I recently discovered a site called outline.com. It allows you to read, highlight, and annotate articles that you find online. But it also seems to allow you to read articles behind paywalls. Perhaps some of you will find that useful.

Chart: The Economist

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